Yup, that’s it. Those two simple words are enough to turn the tide of an emotionally charged argument back towards a place of reconnection.
Of course, when we’re fighting with our spouse the last thing we feel like telling them is that they’re right because… well… they’re not. Right?
Whenever there’s conflict in a relationship, it’s usually because one or both partners feel that something that’s important to them is somehow in jeopardy. There’s a reason we call them ‘fights;’ our arguments feel like combat – each person defending something that’s important to them, and it often feels like if we give in even a little we will lose the fight, which means we’ll lose that important thing we’re trying to protect.
When we’re upset it can be hard to admit that the other person has a valid point, but the reality is that they do, regardless of whatever you’re fighting about and regardless of whether you realize it in the moment or not.
Here’s the key: There’s a difference between saying “You’re right” about something factual, and “You’re right” about something emotional. And when you’re upset about something the facts don’t matter. What matters is how you feel in that moment, and no one can ever be wrong about how they feel. Maybe you don’t yet know how to express it in a clear way, but your feelings are always valid. So are your partner’s. Remember: You’re emotionally upset because you feel like something that’s important to you is at risk. And no one but you gets to decide what’s important to you.
A lot of times that important thing is not immediately obvious, but rather rooted in your core values. It has less to do with the external source (the money, the chores, the kids) and more to do with your personal needs and beliefs that shape who you are (the need for financial stability, appreciation, knowing your kids will turn out ok, etc).
Telling your partner that they’re right is an easy way to acknowledge and validate what they feel in the moment, which will help remove the tension of conflict. By honoring your spouse’s feelings it lets them know that you’re not trying to take away what’s valuable to them. As you both begin to acknowledge each other you’ll relax more and discover new ways of getting what you both want without feeling like you have to sacrifice for each other.
And keep in mind, it can’t be “You’re right, but…” either. That would have the exact opposite effect, because any rationale you provide will invalidate what your partner feels, which will put them back on the defensive. You have to genuinely try to understand what is really important to your mate. Here’s a hint: If you’re not sure what’s on inside your partner, ask them in a way that shows real curiosity. When you stop arguing and start talking you’ll make real progress and begin to re-establish connection.
Remember: Let go of the facts for now, and focus on acknowledging and reconnecting. You and your spouse are on this relationship journey together. You care for each other. You love one another. So work together to build the life you both desire.